If marijuana advocates in four states can get the required signatures to put the question on ballots in 2014, marijuana could be legalized for another 49 million Americans.
At the moment, public opinion is shifting, and Arizona, California, Alaska and Oregon plan to ride the wave of momentum that was created by Colorado and Washington last year. According to a survey by the Pew research Center released in April, 52 percent of Americans favor legalizing marijuana use.
The Justice Department’s announcement not to intervene in the formation of a regulatory structure to oversee recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington, as long as prevent out-of-state distribution, access to minors, drugged driving and revenue from going to cartels, will almost definitely help accelerate change in public opinion.
In addition to recreational use, there are efforts to expand the twenty states that allow medical marijuana. Ballot proposals to legalize medical marijuana are being circulated in Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming.
In Oregon, where a referendum to legalize recreational pot narrowly failed last year, two pot measures are being circulated for signatures. In Portland, Maine, voters will consider a measure next month that would allow possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for adults 21 and older. Economists say that legalizing marijuana could generate $8.7 billion annually in tax revenue for federal, state and local governments.
While many marijuana advocates are hustling to get their initiatives on the 2014 ballots, marijuana proponents in Montana are holding off until 2016 because presidential elections typically bring out more, and younger voters.